CRS Seminar: Tibetan Refugees in Toronto: History, issues and challenges facing Tibetans searching for a safe haven in Canada @ 519 Kaneff Tower
Feb 25 @ 1:00 PM – 2:30 PM

Sherap Therchin is the Executive Director of Canada-Tibet Committee. Sherap grew up in Nepal and worked for Tibet Fund India overseeing and evaluating USAID projects supporting education and healthcare in Tibetan refugee communities in India. With Parkdale Community Legal Services’ support Sherap and his siblings were able to reunite with their family in Canada in 2015.

Toni Schweitzer has been the immigration lawyer at Parkdale Community Legal Services (PCLS) since 2013. She has practiced immigration law for over 2 decades and has appeared before all divisions of the Immigration and Refugee Board, the Federal Court, Federal Court of Appeal and Supreme Court of Canada. When she came to PCLS she knew very little about Tibetans. She is happy to say that she now knows more.

Tenzin Tekan is the Program and Operations Director at PCLS. Tenzin worked with migrants and refugees seeking permanent immigration status in her former role at PCLS as a community legal worker.

Toronto is home to the second largest Tibetan diaspora in North America and it is situated largely in the Parkdale neighbourhood. Mainly coming as refugees, their claims raise issues specific to their political, cultural, legal and social circumstances. We will touch upon the main issues that can arise when the IRB decides refugee claims involving Tibetans (including the highly problematic issue of Indian citizenship), as well as challenges that are faced by recognized Tibetan refugees seeking to reunite with their family.

CRS Seminar: Beyond the 1951 Convention: What are State responsibilities towards refugees according to the 1967 Protocol  @ 4022 IKB (Osgoode Hall Law School)
Mar 3 @ 12:30 PM – 2:00 PM

Guest Speaker: Robert Barsky, Canada Research Chair: Law, Narrative and Border Crossing, Department of Law and Legal Studies, Carleton University

In this talk Prof. Barsky will discuss the letters, minutes of meetings, memos, and reports that pertain to the negotiations leading up to the 1967 Protocol. These documents show that the ambitions of the 19 legal experts who convened in Bellagio in 1965 were far more wide-ranging than simply removing the temporal (pre-1951) and geographical (Europe) limitations of the 1951 Convention. Rather, the documents reveal complex discussions about how to create a stand-alone treaty that would expand the Convention’s reach and render it more adaptable to new refugee situations, while not impeding any more expansive regional instruments that might come to be adopted.

Robert Barsky, Canada Research Chair, employs literary and artistic insights to study border-crossing. His recent book, Undocumented Immigrants in an Era of Arbitrary Law was shortlisted for the Hart Socio-Legal Book Prize. His new research on the 1967 Protocol, and on the Great Tradition, are supported by the Rockefeller Foundation.


CRS Seminar: Central American Migrants in Limbo: Transit Experiences & Grassroot @ Beeton Hall, Toronto Reference Library
Mar 11 @ 5:00 PM – 7:30 PM

Co-hosted with CERLAC

with guest speakers

Gio B’atz’ (Giovanni Batz), researcher; Elizabeth Oglesby, researcher; Adalberto Ramos, activist and organizer & Francisco Rico-Martínez, Co-Director, FCJ Refugee Centre

Workshop: Researchers & Activists Working Together to Support Central American Migrants @ 519 Kaneff Tower
Mar 12 @ 10:00 AM – 1:30 PM

Co-Sponsored by the Centre for Research on Latin America and the Caribbean (CERLAC)

Attendance is free, but please


With the Trump administration’s hard line policies at the US-Mexico border, challenges faced by migrants fleeing violence and poverty in northern Central America have been making global headlines.

On 11 March the Centre for Research on Latin America and the Caribbean (CERLAC) and the Centre for Refugee Studies (CRS) will host a public lecture highlighting the transit experiences of Central Americans as they attempt to cross multiple borders and the response of grass-roots organizations in Mexico and the US. It features three speakers working in Mexico, Guatemala, and the Mexico-US border area: activist and organizer Adalberto Ramos, and researchers Gio B’atz’ (Giovanni Batz) and Elizabeth Oglesby. Commentary on implications for grassroots organizing/movement building and for Canadian policy makers will be provided by Francisco Rico-Martínez.

To follow up on that event CRS and CERLAC are hosting a workshop to explore how university-based researchers and activists working in the field can collaborate to support Central American migrants and to work towards policy change.


10:00-10:10: Welcome, acknowledgement of territory & introductions (Alan Durston)

10:10-10:30: Introducing the Canadian policy framework and Central American migrants (Sean Rehaag)

10:30-11:30: Breakout session 1: How can researchers support Central American migrants and grass roots organizations? (Co-facilitators: William Payne, Luin Goldring & Adalberto Ramos)

11:30-11:45: Health Break

11:45-12:45: Breakout session 2: How can researchers help push for policy change? (Co-facilitators: Carlota McAllister, Elizabeth Oglesby, & Gio B’atz’ (Giovanni Batz)

12:45-1:00: Concluding thoughts: Problematizing the boundaries between action and research (Alison Crosby)

1:00-1:30: Lunch & informal discussion

CRS Seminar: Litigating Immigration Detention through the Law of Torts @ 1001 IKB (Osgoode Hall)
Mar 19 @ 12:30 PM – 2:00 PM

Guest Speaker:  Efrat Arbel, Associate Professor at the University of British Columbia Allard School of Law

Regulated by the Immigration and Refugee Protection Act, Canada’s immigration detention regime empowers the Canada Border Service Agency to detain foreign nationals for discretionary reasons in penal conditions of confinement. The regime suffers from significant problems, including a lack of oversight, no time limits, inadequate facilities, and widespread detention of refugees, children, and the mentally ill. To date, the litigation surrounding immigration detention has been advanced primarily through public law, with mixed success. While these challenges have helped clarify the legalities of immigration detention, they have offered relatively little recourse to detainees who have suffered violations of legal rights. This presentation maps a different approach through which to litigate detention, by turning away from public law and towards private law, and specifically the law of torts. The presentation will reflect on what this research teaches both about the law of detention, and more broadly, the law of torts.

Efrat Arbel is Associate Professor at the University of British Columbia Allard School of Law. Her research examines how legal rights are negotiated and defined in liminal legal spaces like the border, the detention center, and the prison. Dr. Arbel completed her BA at McGill University, her JD at UBC, and her masters and doctoral studies at Harvard Law School. Combining her academic work with legal practice, Dr. Arbel is also engaged in advocacy and litigation involving refugee and prisoner rights. She consults with various government agencies and is a frequent media commentator on refugee and prison law issues.


CRS Seminar: Les réfugiés des sociétés multinationales et la responsabilité internationale du Canada: le cas Nevsun @ York Hall A104, campus Glendon
Mar 23 @ 3:00 PM – 4:00 PM

Avec: Alain-Guy Sipowo, Catalyst Fellow à Osgoode Hall Law School

Les victimes des sociétés multinationales peuvent trouver refuge dans le pays d’origine de la société qui par ses activités économiques a contribué à leur fuite. C’est le cas des plaignants dans l’affaire Nevsun en Colombie-Britannique, à qui le Canada a reconnu le statut de réfugié. La présente communication remet au goût du jour la question de la responsabilité de l’État d’origine qu’occulte de plus en plus la focalisation sur la responsabilité des sociétés. On soutient que l’octroi d’un statut de réfugié ne saurait constituer une réparation suffisante de l’État d’origine de la société multinationale. On cherchera à savoir si on peut imputer à cet État une plus grande responsabilité du fait de ses sociétés à l’étranger et par voie de conséquence qu’il soit tenu de réparer intégralement le préjudice souffert par les victimes déracinés. À partir d’une analyse systématique et critique du droit de la responsabilité internationale et diverses lignes directrices, la présente communication expose et discute les fondements juridiques de la responsabilité de l’État d’origine dans la violation des droits des victimes de sociétés multinationales qui trouvent refuge sur son territoire.

Alain-Guy Sipowo est Catalyst Fellow à Osgoode Hall Law School. Sa thèse de doctorat en droit, soutenue à l’Université Laval au Québec, a obtenu le Prix René Cassin de l’Institut international des droits de l’homme de Strasbourg de meilleure thèse en droits humains des universités francophones. Avant d’arriver à Osgoode, il a poursuivi des études postdoctorales à McGill sur l’accès des victimes à la justice internationale contre les sociétés multinationales. Avocat au Barreau du Québec, il enseigne comme chargé de cours aux universités Laval, McGill et Sherbrooke.

Cet événement s’inscrit dans le cadre de la Semaine de la Francophonie